DOWNINGTOWN >> Coming off a disappointing loss to West Chester Henderson for the Ches-Mont League National Division title last week, Downingtown East returned to the friendly confines of DiSerafino Stadium to host Great Valley in the first round of the District 1 Class 4A girls soccer playoffs.
Taylor Platt notched a hat trick as the 14th-seeded Cougars (12-3-2) were was dominant in possession to stifle the No. 19 Patriots (12-6-1) and go on to a 3-0 victory.
East will go on to face No. 3 Pennsbury in the second round Thursday.
“Excellent team and a tough place to play,” said Downingtown East coach Craig Reed on the Falcons. “We played them last year in the playbacks and were fortunate to get the result. But, we know it’s going to be a battle and a very tough game, but we’re going to get a result and we want to keep playing.”
The Cougars absorbed some early pressure from Great Valley early, then hit back in convincing fashion.
The move out of the back was completed as Livi Lawton slipped a through ball onto the feet of Platt. She streaked toward the goal, and her shot slipped through the arms of Great Valley goalkeeper Lauren Birchler into the net for a 1-0 lead just two minutes in.
“It was good for us to get a goal early because with that, we knew we would have the momentum,” said Platt. “We knew they were a good team and they will come out hard. We just kept the momentum going.”
East, which beat Great Valley during the season, 3-1, on Oct. 2, almost notched a second as a cross from the right-hand side dropped on to the foot of Platt, whose volley went over the net.
The Cougars played defense via offense as they possessed the ball, keeping Great Valley mostly in its own end.
“If we’re closing players down and we have the ball a lot, we’re not defending as much,” said Reed. “We have some real skilled and creative players and they showed that tonight.”
East held a 7-1 shot advantage in the first half, and ended up outshooting the Patriots, 16-3, overall.
Great Valley’s best chance came early in the second half when a loose ball bounced over the head of the Cougars’ defenders. Ann Stagnaro latched on to it and broke in alone on goal. Goalie Courtney Dunlop aggressively came out to meet Stagnaro. Stagnaro got by Dunlop, but her touch carried the ball over the end line for an East goal kick.
“That’s the way I’ve been playing this year,” said Dunlop. “I tried to at least slow her down and I at least want to give my defenders a chance if I don’t get the ball.”
Platt doubled the advantage on a perfectly worked short corner. From the left side, she looped around for a shooting angle, and buried a shot into the right side.
“It’s good to see things that we work on on the training grounds work,” added Reed.
She completed the hat trick in the last minute of the game as Downingtown East moved on.
“It felt great,” Platt said. “I wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t for my teammates.”
Downingtown East 3, Great Valley 0
Great Valley 0 0 – 0
Downingtown East 12 – 3
Downingtown East goals: Platt 3.
Goalie saves: Birchler (GV) 5, Dunlop (DE) 0.
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